The Olympics have come and gone. Phoenix had five of their own participate in the Winter Olympics, with three medaling (Lauri Korpikoski of Finland with Bronze, Oliver Ekman-Larsonn of Sweden with Silver, and Mike Smith of Canada with Gold).
“It’s not every day you play for an Olympic medal,” Korpikoski said. “We had some veterans playing their last game with the national team and it was special for them to end with that medal. After the game (vs. Sweden), guys were pretty down about losing that game, but I think we regrouped pretty well.”
For the rest of the Coyotes, it has been 18 days since they have stepped on the ice playing a regulation game. They have had fan fests, team dinners, and special events to keep them busy. Now that all the fun is over, their minds have to now switch on what has developed to be a crucial playoff push.
“There’s a big push now,” Smith said. “We know where we are in the standings, and every game’s going to be important.”
The Coyotes finished their last few games before the break winning three of their last four, including big victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks at home. Those wins had put them tied for the final wild card spot with the Dallas Stars with whom they end with in the regular season. Winnepeg and Vancouver are just a game behind and they appear three more times on the schedule.
It seems as if with a team that wants to complete playing for the Stanley Cup they would look to make some transactions. They have been hurting in the defensive front, forcing Smith to be beaten up game after game. General Manager Don Maloney though has stated that a big trade is most likely not going to happen, but that will not take away the possibility to reformat the team a little.
“There’s nothing imminent,” Maloney said. “I don’t feel like I’m hot on the track of a big deal. I think I’m just like everybody else. I’m looking and searching and kicking a lot of tires and seeing if I can find something that can help us.”
It is also hard to ruin a good thing considering what the Coyotes had done this offseason to rebuild their team long term. The chemistry has fluctuated, but for head coach Dave Tippett, he too does not want to ruin a good thing.
“We’re really going with the mindset this is our group and we’re going forward with this group right here,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ll do everything we can to get these guys prepared and try to play the right way and see if we can find ways to win.”
The Jets are on their schedule starting tonight along with a date in Colorado Friday. With many of their players now understanding what is at stake with only a handful of games to go, there is just too much for the Coyotes to let fall back on.
News and Notes
Phoenix recalled forward Brandon McMillan and reassigned Brandon Gomley to the AHL Peoria Pirates.